The Best Eateries In Nashville, TN

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
10:38 am
08/11/16

Photograph by Tec Petaja for Kinfolk

With one of our offices based in Nashville, it was easy to put together a list of the best restaurants and eateries in Music City. While Nashville is classically known for its booming music and arts scene, the culinary happenings are highly regarded and not to be missed. And it’s not just southern food, either—there’s everything from New York-style bagels and Japanese ramen to some of the best Mexican tortilla soup in the country. With a diverse spectrum of international cuisine, alongside all the city’s must-haves, Nashville has become a foodie’s paradise. Take a look at our favorite spots below (all 28 of them!) and eat like a local the next time you’re in town.

Avo. Avo is Nashville’s first plant-based restaurant. It offers vegan, raw, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly dishes for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. For those skeptical, meat-eaters make up a good percentage of the diners, ordering things like the spicy zucchini-noodle pad thai, cashew-ricotta pesto lasagna, and a tree nut cheese plate. There’s also a full bar (we suggest the creamy avocado margarita!) and raw cheesecakes that’ll have you coming back for more. There’s also a cute little section in the front where you can buy naturalist goods and veggie spiralizers to make raw dishes at home.
Cuisine: Vegan. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Bastion. What started as a bar now has a 5-star, twenty-four seat restaurant attached, and it is a fan favorite. The setting is very intimate (not ideal for kids), and we urge you to try everything. There’s an ever-evolving, multi-course, a la carte menu for parties of 1-4. For parties 4-6, Bastion offers a prix fixe large format dinner. (Note: Bastion can’t accommodate parties larger than six). Each item has a very short description, which allows for an element of surprise when the dish is served. Dining here is truly a unique experience and the food is phenomenal.
Cuisine: Eclectic American, Cocktail Bar. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$$$.

Burger Up. With three locations now in the Nashville area, this restaurant is a city staple. It’s family-friendly, affordable, and is always consistent with its burgers, fries, salads, and more. The meat is locally sourced, and if you’re not a meat-eater, they also have a tasty black bean quinoa burger that is the best in town. Don’t forget to indulge in an order of the truffle fries paired with their stellar homemade ketchup. Secret tip: It’s no longer on the menu, but the hibiscus mimosa is a must-try (they will make it for you if you ask!).
Cuisine: American, Burgers. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Chauhan Ale & Masala House. Co-owner and Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan is known for her work on Food Network’s show “Chopped”. This place has been given rave reviews, including “best new restaurant” by The Tennessean and one of the “10 hottest restaurants in Nashville” by Zagat. The menu is globally influenced Indian cuisine with a southern flair. You will fall in love with the tandoori chicken poutine, guava glazed BBQ ribs, moilee coconut curry, lamb keema papadi, and everything else on the eclectic menu. We’ve never seen more creative pairings, and even if the combination may sound peculiar, we promise it’s delicious!
Cuisine: Indian, Southern. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$$.

City House. This is a certain Mother Editor’s favorite restaurant in town. Located in Germantown—a mecca for foodies—City House is an Italian fusion spot that houses some of Nashville’s best pizza and appetizers. We recommend the belly ham pie with an egg on top for an entree, and octopus or buttermilk cheddar frico to share. Truth is, everything on the menu is creative and delicious, so it’s impossible to go wrong here! The atmosphere is relatively casual, but it’s not super kid-friendly. You can sit at a table, the bar, the pizza area, or at a community table on the outdoor patio. This place is a must!
Cuisine: Italian, American. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Casual. Price range: $$$.

Cochon Butcher- An offshoot of a New Orleans joint, Cochon Butcher is a butcher shop, sandwich counter, and a wine bar. They specialize in house made meats, terrines and sausages, and everything is delicious! We recommend the mac-n-cheese, pimento sliders, and the cubano. The location has ample outdoor space, with a big, open patio that is kid-friendly and allows for a casual dining experience. Also, if you need to feed a big party, they offer take-out charcuterie platters, cheese plates, and assorted butcher sandwiches.
Cuisine: Southern, New Orleans. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Dino’s. Dino’s is an old-school burger, french fry, and beer joint that is a local staple. Specializing in late-night food (there can be a line out the door at 2 am), Dino’s is the oldest dive-bar in east Nashville, and their burger is to die for. Not a burger fan? They offer chicken sandwiches, BLT’s, grilled cheese, nachos, and more. If you don’t make it by at night, they also have a brunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 pm. The brunch is kid-friendly, but otherwise it’s an adult-only setting. Don’t miss out on this place.
Cuisine: American, Burgers. Kid friendly: For brunch only! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

Epice. Hands down, this is the best Mediterranean food in Nashville. Located at the end of 12 South, this somewhat hidden gem of a restaurant never disappoints. We always order the sayadeya—a spiced white fish fillet coupled with vegetables, caramelized onions, and the most flavorful potatoes. Additionally, they serve traditional lamb dishes, as well as chicken and tenderloin brochettes in a modern, but cozy environment. They also have a incredible vegetarian dishes and a great cocktail list. And if you enjoy vodka, make sure to try the Fayrooz.
Cuisine: Lebanese, Vegetarian. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Casual. Price range: $$$.

Five Points Pizza. Some of the best pizza in town! Located in the five points area of east Nashville, this pizza spot specializes in New York-style pies made to order or by the slice. They have all the classics (cheese, pepperoni, veggie), but also offer specialty slices, like the hot Hawaiian (spicy capicola, pineapple, fresh jalapenos) and the rocket pie (arugula, grape tomatoes, roasted garlic, and shredded mozzarella), plus many more. You’ve gotta try the garlic knots, but beware, they are addicting!
Cuisine: Italian. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

5th and Taylor. This place has the perfect date night ambiance, complete with enchanting candle light, contemporary artwork, unique cocktails, and private dining in a speakeasy-like atmosphere. Popular dishes include the beautiful beef tartare, the halibut and mashed potatoes, the oh-so tender pork shoulder, and the impressive Elvis moonpie for dessert. Don’t forget to pair with a cold draft beer or speciality (and delicious) cocktail. The restaurant is only open for dinner most days besides Sunday brunch, where we suggest you to order the buttery sausage biscuits.
Cuisine: American. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Nice-Casual. Price range: $$$$.

Hattie B’s- You can’t travel to Nashville without trying out the signature hot chicken. Hattie B’s serves up spicy fried chicken, southern sides (pimento mac & cheese, collard greens, black eyed pea salad, etc.) and local brews in a counter-service setting. We recommend ordering the classic hot chicken sandwich, which includes a chicken breast, cole slaw, “Nashville comeback sauce”, and a kosher pickle. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t like hot, spicy food, because they offer a “mild” option that has the right amount of flavor without setting your mouth on fire. This spot is a favorite for many, so there may be a long line, but we promise it’s worth the wait.
Cuisine: Southern. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

Josephine.  Nestled on 12 South, and adjacent to the ever popular Jeni’s Ice Cream, this American farmhouse cuisine is on par. It’s elegant without the fuss. We recommend the beet dish, the buffalo cauliflower appetizer, steak frites, and duck breast. They also offer the Josephine X | X (pronounced 10 by 10) tasting menu, which includes ten seats and ten courses that are carefully curated to provide a personal and interactive experience with the head chef. If you can’t get a reservation (we recommend calling ahead), there’s a full-service bar welcome to walk-ins with an extensive cocktail and wine list.
Cuisine: American. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Nice-Casual. Price range: $$$$.

Korea House. What many might drive past in a blink of an eye, this hole-in-the-wall hot spot is one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. Located in a strip-mall off of Charlotte’s Pike, this family-run Korea kitchen dishes up some of the tastiest cuisine in town. The chicken bulgolgi is our favorite thing on the menu and a definite must-try! We also have a soft-spot for the bibimbap and the seafood pancake, plus, each entree comes with the traditional entourage of small sides, complete with kimchi and the most delicious braised potatoes you’ll ever have.
Cuisine: Korean. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Casual. Price range: $.

Le Sel- Le Sel is a classy and warm French restaurant located in midtown Nashville. It’s well designed and elegant without a fuss, making for the perfect date spot. The menu offers traditional French dishes as well as an impressive seafood selection. We love the moules frites, chicken liver pate, oysters, and onion soup. They also make a mean cocktail and have an extensive wine list. They serve lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, so make sure to stop in!
Cuisine: French. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Nice-Casual. Price range: $$$.

Little Octopus. This beautifully modern neighborhood restaurant offers an impressive range of flavors and clean ingredients, from raw, cold, and warm items designed for sharing to full-sized entrees. Here, you’ll find a great mix of vegan, pescatarian, and carnivorous dishes with a focus on fresh, vibrant foods. Meat eaters, make sure to order the burger—it’s one of the city’s best!
Cuisine: American, Tapas/Small Plates. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$$.

Margot. Another East Nashville gem located in the middle of the trendy Five Points area, this café and bar has the best dirty martini in town. The menu changes daily depending on what’s in season and fresh each day, which is amazing, but they always have house-made chips and aioli that are to die for and freshly baked bread. The main courses feature a meat, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian/vegan option, making it a great place to dine with friends. This is a perfect date spot with a warm ambiance and French feel to its beautifully historic 1930s building.
Cuisine: French. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Nice-Casual. Price range: $$$.

Martin’s.  You can’t visit the south without eating some BBQ. A temple of smoked meats—redneck tacos, brisket burgers, and ribs—Martin’s is a local favorite for BBQ lovers. Their goal is to run out of food each day, just so that their customers know how fresh  the ingredients are and are sure to return. Alongside the various meat options, they also serve the classic sides: hushpuppies, green beans, cornbread—the list goes on. Give it a try for some true, southern, mouthwatering fare.
Cuisine: BBQ. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

Mas Tacos Por Favor- There’s usually a line out the door at Mas Tacos, but we guarantee you it’s worth the wait. Their chicken tortilla soup is out-of-this-world amazing, as well as their plethora of street-style tacos and authentic Mexican sides (try the elote and cuban black beans with plantains!). Even better, they recently expanded to nearly double the size and opened a bar with homemade margaritas (both regular and flavored), palomas, and beer. This place is very casual, inexpensive, kid-friendly, and has a large outdoor seating area. Don’t miss out on this East Nashville superstar!
Cuisine: Mexican. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

Otaku Ramen. Located in the Gulch, Otaku has some of the best Japanese food in town! They make traditional ramen using local ingredients, as well as a number of “snacks”. We love the hot chicken buns and gyoza to start, and usually opt for the Tennessee tonkotsu or the lemon paitan ramen as a main course. The restaurant has an open kitchen, dining counter, and rows of community tables that create an airy but upbeat feel. These bowls of noodles are truly delicious, and crafted with perfection. This spot is a don’t miss!
Cuisine: Japanese. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Proper Bagel- New to town, this New York-style bagel shop and market is modern eatery with a chic vibe. The kettle-baked bagels are the best in Nashville, and they showcase house made salads, custom cream cheeses, and a selection of smoked fish directly flown in from Brooklyn. They also offer Barista Parlor coffee, a local favorite!
Cuisine: American. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Rolf and Daughters. This Germantown-based restaurant offers eclectic and delicious dishes with a focus on whole-animal butchery, rustic housemade pastas, and seasonal produce. We love the homemade sourdough bread with seaweed butter, the squid ink tajarin with sea urchin (it sounds odd, but trust us—it’s amazing), and well as the garganelli verde with pork ragout. They have a number of vegetarian-friendly side dishes, as well as steak, chicken, pork, and fish entrees. There’s a first-come-first-serve front patio, so if you don’t have a reservation (it can be difficult to get one!), we recommend going early and sitting outside.
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean. Kid friendly: Not so much. Attire: Nice-Causal. Price range: $$$.

Smiling Elephant. Any local will tell you this is the best Thai food in town. Located in a cute little house in the historic Waverly District, the Smiling Elephant is always packed, always friendly, and always delicious. Here you can find authentic Thai dishes like fresh tom kha coconut soup, traditional pad thai, masanan curry, and sticky rice. Most dishes can be made vegetarian, gluten free, and other allergen-free at the diner’s request. The menu also offers kid-friendly options, so it’s a great place for families. Parking can be hard to find, but it’s worth ordering it to-go, too.
Cuisine: Thai. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

The Dog of Nashville. We are big fans of The Dog. It’s laid-back, family-friendly, and a Nashville go-to for creative and delicious hot dogs. Some of their inventive menu items include: the buffalo dog (buffalo sauce, ranch, bleu cheese, and diced celery), the Coney Island (mustard, sauerkraut, and Tabasco onions), the rise and shine (bacon, cheese sauce, and a fried egg), and the not dog for non-meat eaters (veggie dog on wheat with mustard, mayo, cucumber, lettuce, and tomato). Not a fan of hot dogs? They also have burgers, corndogs, and cheesesteaks!
Cuisine: Hot Dogs. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

The Pharmacy. We love this place for their farm burger, tater tots, and cozy biergarten. They also have an old-time soda foundation serving milkshakes, phosphates, and ice cream sodas. You can’t go wrong here (kids love it as much as adults) and the wait time only speaks to the quality of their food! If the weather permits, we recommend sitting outside at one of the many community-style tables!
Cuisine: German, Burgers. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

The Southern. We frequent this downtown bistro for their delicious brunch and oysters. Featuring a shuck-to-order oyster bar, this restaurant mixes the best of southern cuisine with seafood flair. For brunch, our favorites are the crab cake hash and the steak and biscuit Benedict. These dishes may sound indulgent, but they are well worth the full stomach. They also serve lunch and dinner, with their signature fish n’ grits and a number of beef options.
Cuisine: Southern. Kid friendly: Somewhat. Attire: Casual. Price range: $$$.

Got a sweet tooth?
Five Daughters. This bakery is a family-owned donut-haven based out of Franklin, TN. They recently opened up shop in 12 South, and their 100 Layer Donut is a must-have. It will literally melt in your mouth! They also offer cupcakes, and vegan donuts for those who avoid animal ingredients. Stop by this cute bakery or grab one at one of the Barista Parlor coffee shops around town.
Cuisine: Dessert, Bakery. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni’s is a Nashville must! There are three locations across the city, and they offer the beloved flavors that have made this company a success. There’s often a line out the door, but the ice cream sandwiches, sorbets, buttermilk frozen yogurts, and sauces are superior. Try the brambleberry crisp, bourbon salted pecan, and the wildberry lavender!
Cuisine: Dessert, Ice Cream. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $$.

Las Paletas. Located across from Sevier Park in the 12 South area, Las Paletas is a gourmet, Mexican-style popsicle shop made with fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Each paleta can be dipped in rich, dark chocolate (we always go for the creamy avocado flavor), and they also offer chiquitas (minis) for kids. The menu is constantly changing and the location couldn’t be better!
Cuisine: Dessert, Mexican. Kid friendly: Yep! Attire: Anything goes. Price range: $.

Leave a Comment

1 comment

Hannah

We were just in Nashville for the first time last week and tried out Proper Bagel, which I was happy to see on your list. It was amazing and the vibe was great. Plus we didn’t feel weird bringing our two little guys along.

TEN THINGS - BLEUBIRD

[…] 10. I recently wrote on article on the best eateries in Nashville. You can read it here. […]

ALL MATERIAL © MOTHER LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. SITE DESIGNED BY JANE REACTION, DEVELOPED BY BRANDI BERNOSKIE